Pew: Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

pewEarlier today, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released the findings of a survey on “Civic Engagement in the Digital Age”. The survey examined online and offline political engagement with special attention to the role of social networking sites in people’s political activities. It expands a study the Project conducted in 2008 on “The Internet and Civic Engagement”.  Key findings:

“The well-educated and the well-off are more likely than others to participate in civic life online – just as those groups have always been more likely to be active in politics and community affairs offline. Political activity in social networking spaces  shows a somewhat more moderate version of that trend.”

With regard to Social Networking Spaces (SNS):

“There has been major growth in political activity on SNS between 2008 and this survey in 2012. The number of social networking site users has grown from 33% of the online population in 2008 to 69% of the online population in 2012. And there have been major jumps in the proportion of SNS users who post political news, who friend or follow candidates, and who joined an SNS group organized around political or social issues. In addition, notable shares of SNS users say their activity on the sites has prompted them to learn more about social or political issues and to take action around those issues.”

According to the Pew survey, SNS users are politically engaged in the following ways:

Political engagement on social networking sites60% of American adults use social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter; these are some of the civic behaviors they have taken part in on these sites:

% of SNS users who have done this

% of all adults who have done this

“Like” or promote material related to political/social issues that others have posted

38%

23%

Encourage other people to vote

35

21

Post your own thoughts/comments on political or social issues

34

20

Repost content related to political/social issues

33

19

Encourage others to take action on political/social issues that are important to you

31

19

Post links to political stories or articles for others to read

28

17

Belong to a group that is involved in political/social issues, or working to advance a cause

21

12

Follow elected officials, candidates for office or other public figures

20

12

Total  who said yes to any of the activities listed above

66%

39%

 

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